In 2017, the Christian Reformed Church took three ministries focused on “transformative change in individuals, churches, and communities” and grouped them together to “optimize resources and cultivate further growth of non-formal adult education and training.” (Agenda for Synod 2018, p. 130). Global Coffee Break, Timothy Leadership Training Institute, and Educational Care became part of what was temporarily called “the Combined Training Unit.” In October 2018, the board for this group rebranded the entity as Raise Up Global Ministries. This month Sam Huizenga, previously program manager for Global Coffee Break, replaced Gary Bekker as director.
Huizenga said she’s excited to take on the challenge of leading this collaborative group of training programs used by the Global Church. “Coffee Break, Timothy Leadership Training, and Educational Care were all started and developed by CRC folks who have a passion for the mission of the church,” she said. Pointing out that the programs share the values of being biblically grounded, gospel driven, and Spirit led, while being focused on relationships and delivered through accessible means, Huizenga asked for prayer for Raise Up staff as they seek to “stay in step with the Spirit. We must innovate while staying committed to our values,” she said.
Bekker, who is planning to retire in September, said he would remain with Raise Up to finish some projects and to support Huizenga in the transition.
Of the last year and a half, Bekker said that fusing six or seven different organizational cultures from the various partners who were using these programs didn’t necessarily come naturally, but that it was worth doing in order to ensure each ministry had resources to continue.
“There was recognition of the excellence and the vigor in the programs themselves and considerable capacities of the core people connected with them,” Bekker said.
“There was no grand design,” he said, but Bekker recognizes in this set of programs an echo of the ‘three-legged stool’ metaphor for faith formation used in his and his parents’ generations. It’s probably not that surprising, he said, that Christian Reformed people would unify programs focused on church and church leaders; school—or Christians who are educators; and home, in this case represented by Coffee Break, a discipleship and outreach program.